Chipotle Chilaquiles

27 Sep

Continuing the festivities during Kevin’s birthday celebration weekend, I wanted to make some sort of Mexican breakfast (his favorite).  If we are ever out to brunch and chilaquiles are on a menu, it’s a given that he will order it.  I wanted to make a different kind of chilaquiles dish to mix it up from what you’d find in a restaurant and came across this Rick Bayless recipe on Food and Wine Magazine.  I was drawn to the idea of a smoky chipotle chilaquiles dish, and I still had some chipotle chiles in the freezer from a previous recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes with their reserved 1/2 cup of liquid and the chipotles; blend until almost smooth.

    Pureed!

  2. In a very large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add two-thirds of the onion and cook over moderately high heat until browned around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat.
  3. Gently stir the tortilla chips into the sauce, making sure they are well coated. Top with the remaining onion, the shredded chicken, cheese, and a fried egg and 1/4 avocado per serving. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately.

    Chipotle Chilaquiles

NOTE: The recipe makes 4 servings and can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat the chipotle-tomato sauce before proceeding.

*I decided to make my own baked tortilla chips instead of using store-bought chips or deep-frying.  I highly recommend baking tortillas to make chips vs anything else, since you can slightly over-bake them to dry them out a bit more.  That way, they won’t get too soggy in the chilaquiles sauce!  I used a Food Network recipe and baked for 2 minutes longer than recommended.

Baked Tortilla Chips

**I highly recommend keeping a batch of shredded chicken on hand for any occasion.  You can easily thaw and use it in salads, sandwiches, enchiladas (recipe forthcoming!), and of course, chipotle chilaquiles.  The Kitchn’s instructions for making shredded chicken in a slow cooker is my favorite – it’s easy and you don’t lose any of the nutrients by boiling the chicken, nor moisture by using the oven.  I strain the fat out of the stock after and use it for other things too!

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Banana Bread

25 Sep

In my quest this past spring to find a breakfast bread that wasn’t overloaded with sugar but still tasty, I gave a number of different recipes a try.  The third recipe I tried out (from AllRecipes.com) for Banana Bread was hands down my favorite.  Because the banana content is so high, you don’t have to worry about moisture and you don’t need as much added sugar as other breads do.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 C mashed overripe bananas (about 3 bananas)*
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)

*NOTE:  If you don’t have over-ripened bananas, you can ripen them to your liking in the oven.  Put them in the oven at 250°F for 15-25 minutes (depending on how unripe they were to begin with).  The low heat accelerates the ripening, turning them sweet and almost pudding-like.  However, beware the peel will turn an unappetizing black color, and the bananas may leak a little!

On-Demand Overripe Bananas

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Since the bread is SO moist, it won’t stay fresh for very long.  I would give it three days tops outside of the fridge, and maybe 4-5 days in.  With that, I prefer to split these into 6″ x 3″ x 2″ mini loaf pans (this recipe will make enough for 3), wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze the loaves I’m not going to eat immediately.  The loaf at that size will easily thaw over night.  Just adjust the cook time to about 40 minutes, but start checking for doneness around 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Nordstrom Lime Cilantro Salad Dressing

23 Sep

One of the jobs I had prior to graduating college was working in the Lingerie Department at Nordstrom slanging bras and panties to women (and the occasional man) of all ages, shapes, and sizes.  I learned the art of the hustle since my paychecks were based on commission, and I also frequented the Cafe inside the store I worked at.  I fell in love with their Lime and Cilantro Chicken Salad Dressing, among other dishes I could use my discount on.  After I stopped working there, I found myself missing it and thankfully Nordstrom published a cookbook a few years later.  Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy!

Nordstrom Lime and Cilantro Salad Dressing

Is it the prettiest dressing you ever did see?  Perhaps not, but it’s delicious and it’s packed with flavor so a little bit goes a long way.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1cup lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3cup canola oil
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Puree chipotle chilies in food processor.
  2. Add all ingredients except oil and cilantro to processor and blend.
  3. Slowly add stream of oil to form emulsion.
  4. Add cilantro to processor and pulse to combine.

    Add Cilantro Last

The salad that Nordstrom used the dressing on had baby greens, corn, chicken breasts, plum tomatoes, jack cheese, roasted red pepper, and toasted pumpkin seeds.  It goes great as a thin sandwich spread, dipping veggie sticks, everything you’d use a vinaigrette on really!

NOTE: A small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce will give you way more than you need for this recipe.  You can easily just freeze leftover peppers in a small plastic dressing container.  About two peppers fit per container, and it’ll thaw overnight.  I love the smoky flavor it adds to dishes and will share another recipe featuring chipotle peppers soon!

Hot Air Balloon Baby Shower

21 Sep

I am prefacing this post with an admittance that this is over 3.5 years late.  As Kev and I are on the brink of welcoming our own little one into the world, it seems that we’ve got all things baby on the brain these days.  I realized I never shared this project when the baby being welcomed at this shower started preschool a couple of weeks ago!

The Guest of Honor!

As I perused Bernie’s baby registry (yes, in 2014), I noticed a really cute hot air balloon crib sheet set and immediately scoured the internet for some ideas to theme a work shower around. Bernie and Ben wanted the gender of the baby to be a surprise, so I wanted to keep the the decor gender neutral.  I found an AMAZING set of printables and a Hot Air Balloon Diaper Cake tutorial (to the right in the photo below) on Hostess with the Mostess, with blue, yellow, and pink.  Perfect!

 

The Cookie Casa Spread

I used the patterned paper downloads that Hostess with the Mostess provided to create a bunting and some additional signage for the room.

Bunting

I also sketched out a cloud shape, cut it out, and used it as a stencil.  I cut that same shape into a few sheets of letter-sized paper, cut them all out, and sewed them down the middle. Boom – a quick cloud centerpiece!  I used some streamers in coordinating colors with the theme to make a starburst, tying the colors back into the clouds.

Makeshift “Centerpieces”

To provide the treats, I enlisted the well-loved (and now sorely missed!) Cookie Casa to create mini cupcakes and cake with sprinkles that matched our color scheme, and used the small decorative flag downloads from Hostess with the Mostess as as miniature cake toppers.

Cookie Casa Minis!

For the cake, I cut a few circles out of the decorative paper and sewed them down the middle to create a dimensional paper hot air balloon, cut out a couple paper clouds, and used one of the larger decorative flags to create cake toppers.

Mini Cake with Toppers

I also found another centerpiece tutorial on Weddings Illustrated for a centerpiece using a styrofoam ball and paper, and picked up some coordinating scrapbook paper from the craft store to create it.

Styrofoam Hot Air Balloon

Here are some more snaps from the crafts and the party!

 

Chocolate Whipped Cream

17 Sep

For Kevin’s birthday this year, I made the last cake I’ll probably have time to bake for a long time.  His side of the family came over for a celebration, and I wanted to make a cake with a lighter feel.  I went with my favorite go-to chocolate cake recipe for the cake and added fresh strawberries and bananas in between the cake layers.

Fresh Strawberries and Bananas

 

And instead of frosting, I went with a chocolate whipped cream after coming across the perfect recipe on The First Year.  I also love the look of a naked cake, and tried to do something similar.  However, I made the whipped cream a bit stiff so that it would hold up longer out of the fridge and it wasn’t as easy to spread.

Makeshift Naked Cake

When you want a whipped cream that will last longer, you should also freeze the mixing bowl and whisk you’re going to use in advance.  With frosting, whipped cream, or any other recipes where texture is important and you’re adding lumpy dry goods to it, I also recommend sifting the ingredients to prevent lumps!  Here’s the delicious chocolate whipped cream recipe as adapted from The First Year:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place a metal mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the bowl from the freezer. Add the heavy cream, and sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar into the bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and the whipped cream holds its shape.  Don’t over beat!

    Sift Into Frozen Bowl

  3. Use on cakes, cupcakes, pies, hot cocoa, etc. Place leftovers in a container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

Happy Birthday Kevin